March 26, 2009 / Asian News
A FATHER-OF-THREE has been arrested by anti-terror police in Bangladesh after they found a cache of weapons at an orphanage run by his Stockport-based charity.
Faisal Mostafa - a chemist who has twice been cleared of terrorism charges - is being quizzed in connection with the raid, his father Ghulam Mostafa told Asian News's sister paper, the M.E.N.
Dr Mostafa, 45, is a trustee of Green Crescent, a charity registered to his home in Heaton Mersey.
The charity runs a school and orphanage on the remote island of Bhola, in south Bangladesh, which was raided by an elite anti-terror squad on Tuesday.
Officers claim to have found `nine or 10' guns, 3,000 bullets, grenades, walkie-talkies and army uniforms.
They also say they discovered leaflets about Jihad (holy war) and equipment for making bombs. A teacher and three caretakers were arrested at the scene.
Lt Cdr Mamunur Rashid, of Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion, said: "We suspect the orphanage has been used for terrorists - for training and attacking."
Ghulam, who lives with his son at Green Pastures, Heaton Mersey, told the M.E.N on Thursday his son was entirely innocent.
"He runs a small orphanage for children aged eight to 11 and a medical centre and he is not a terrorist," said retired accountant Ghulam, 73.
"The equipment they found is not for bomb-making.
"He's a hunter and has a licensed gun. The cartridges are expensive and he makes his own. He's been accused of being a terrorist in the past and been cleared of all charges by British courts.
"He goes over to Bangladesh at least once a year to make sure the orphanage is being run properly. He has high blood pressure and a heart problem and I'm worried and so are his wife and children. I'm scared he will not get fair treatment and that is my greatest concern.
"The British High Commission was told he had not been arrested when he had and the authorities over there then had to admit that he had been arrested. He has dual nationality and the British High Commission has told me they can't help.
"If he was here I would not be as worried because I know he would get a fair hearing.
"He is a nice, hardworking boy, well behaved and he set out to help the poor people of Bangladesh after seeing terrible suffering when he lived there as a child."
Dr Mostafa, who has a PhD in chemistry, was put on trial in 1996 in Manchester for conspiring to cause explosions.
A jury was told that chemicals, timers and detonators were found in his house. He said they were there because he was writing a book on explosives.
Dr Mostafa was cleared of conspiracy to cause explosions but was sentenced to four years for illegal possession of a pistol with intent to endanger life and banned from owning a gun.
In 2000, Dr Mostafa and another man from Birmingham named Moinul Abedin were arrested following a surveillance operation by MI5. A court was told a lock-up linked to Abedin was found to contain 100kg of the explosive HMTD.
A bag containing wiring, latex gloves, scales and traces of the explosive were found in bin bags outside a house both men had been seen using in Birmingham. The authorities also found passports, visas and immigration papers in different names.
When Dr Mostafa was arrested the prosecution said he had discs in his jacket which contained a `terrorists' handbook' and that further documents were found on his computer at home.
Following a trial in 2002, Abedin was convicted of committing an act with intent to cause an explosion.
Dr Mostafa was cleared of conspiracy to cause explosions and doing an act intended to cause an explosion.
In July 2008 he was stopped at Manchester Airport as he tried to board a plane to Bangladesh with a gas-powered pistol and bullet parts in his luggage.
He said the gun was a gift for his brother and they were going on a hunting and fishing trip. He was given a 56-day jail sentence suspended for two years and 100 hours' community service for possession of a weapon.
Green Crescent, which received £63,200 in 2008 from donors, says its purpose is to `help those who are impoverished by means of facilitating free education and health care via the construction of schools and clinics in countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan'.
It also claims to be active in Britain, helping `youth from poor ethnic backgrounds to build confidence and responsibility by sports and social events'.
Neither of two listed spokesmen for Green Crescent could be contacted today.
The Charity Commission said it was `seriously concerned' by the raids.
Chief executive Andrew Hind said: "We are working with relevant law enforcement and other agencies to investigate the allegation that terrorist activity is connected with the charity."